Irène Théry

Filiation, Origins, Parenthood How Lawmakers Are Dealing with Recent Notions of Inter-generational Responsibility Publication date : September 3, 2014

Irène Théry specialises in the sociology of law, family and private life. Her current research interests, on which she has published numerous works, focus on contemporary transformations in gender and inter-generational ties. Credited with coining the term ‘famille recomposée’ (blended family) in French, she has headed several international research projects on the subject. She has held numerous prestigious positions: teacher, researcher at the CNRS, director of studies at EHESS in charge of social-science doctoral candidates in the Marseille area. She served on the scientific committee of the National Institute for Demographic Studies; on the scientific advisory board of EHESS; on the Higher Council on Population and the Family; on the multidisciplinary EHESS project ‘Gender and the Social Sciences’; on the Higher Council on the Family; on the editorial board of Esprit magazine. She holds an agrégation in literature and a doctorate in sociology.

In October 2013, Dominique Bertinotti, then French delegate minister for families, commissioned a report on the controversial issues of medically assisted reproduction (ART) for lesbian couples and on the recognition of children born outside France of surrogate mothers. Irène Théry directed the report, which was delivered to the government in April 2014.
Refusing to take sides in a debate that includes not only gay marriage but also widely accessible ART and the right for children to know who their biological parents are, Irène Théry analyses the existing family model, the acknowledged evolution of the family, in terms of composition and rights (in 19th-century France children born out of wedlock had no rights), and she hopes the old ‘family secrets’ model is now a thing of the past.
She notes that, in our lifetimes, only family ties are irrevocable: we can lose our jobs, get divorced, undergo sex changes, etc. Society evolves, in spite of ourselves (who would have thought, just twenty years ago, that two women or two men could marry?), so we must try to adapt with intelligence and reflection.

• The author is a recognised specialist on family issues.
• Her reflections and analysis are both wise and measured.